New York Times: Closing Case, Prosecutors Focus on Former Mayor’s Ties to Publicist

Sharpe James Fatigue Watch from the New York Times: Closing Case, Prosecutors Focus on Former Mayor’s Ties to Publicist

“The problem with the government’s case is that they have not been able to draw a direct line showing money going to Sharpe James’s hands, which is toxic,” said one defense lawyer not involved in the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to strain relations with the United States attorney’s office.

Despite establishing the romantic relationship between the two, the lawyer said, prosecutors have not produced a witness with direct knowledge of a plan to steer the properties to Ms. Riley.

Looks like the prosecution is about to bungle the case against Sharpe James. They’ll convict Riley of violating the city redevelopment contracts, but there’s no glory in fining or jailing an incompetent developer.

New York Times: Newark Lists Another Killing, but Is Still Way Off ’07 Pace

New York Times: Newark Lists Another Killing, but Is Still Way Off ’07 Pace
Suspects of the murder that ended Newark’s 43 day murder-free streak are already in custody, having given themselves up. Another murder, however, took place an hour before the suspect turned himself in. This marks the city’s 7th murder, down from 22 this time last year — a 68% drop.

Star Ledger: Influx of patients stretch thin centers for underserved

Star Ledger: Influx of patients stretch thin centers for underserved
In keeping with the healthcare meme, Sunday’s Ledger had an excellent article on the state of healthcare facilities in New Jersey and how that’s having an impact on health centers.

Consider this: In the past 18 months, five acute-care hospitals have closed their doors in New Jersey, all the result of a complex set of financial problems, including what hospitals say is chronic underfunding from government payers like Medicaid.

In Newark, Saint James Hospital in the city’s Ironbound section closed a little more than a week ago and Columbus Hospital in the city’s North Ward will be closing by June 1.

New York Times: At Trial of Newark’s Former Mayor, Feelings of Loyalty, and of Being Let Down

New York Times: At Trial of Newark’s Former Mayor, Feelings of Loyalty, and of Being Let Down

After drawing enough people to fill Judge Martini’s courtroom when opening arguments began March 3, the trial has been sparsely attended since. Mr. Price, the Rutgers history professor, attributed the seeming lack of interest to the city’s collective fatigue with the travails of Mr. James.

“It may be that Newark has moved on, and Sharpe James is now officially part of the past,” he said. “It may be that this city and its citizens are exhausted by all this drama. The trial has just started but the drama surrounding this trial has gone on for a very long time.”

Professor price sums up my feelings on the Sharpe James trial succinctly.

Despite Protests, St. James Closes Acute Care

From the Ledger, picked up by the Ironbound Blog: Despite bitter protests, Newark’s Saint James Hospital quietly closes

Despite months of angry protests by local residents, Newark’s Saint James Hospital closed today with more of a whimper than a bang.

This morning, moving trucks sat parked near the hospital entrance in the city’s Ironbound neighborhood. Flyers posted on the doors announced the closing in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Opining on the St. James Closure

Bicycle Mark at Citizen Reporter was kind enough to get in touch a few days back and get my thoughts on the closure (or, it seems, loss of services) at Saint James Hospital.
Citizen Reporter: The Threat of Hospital Closings in Newark

Why are two very needed hospitals in the city of Newark, NJ under threat of closing down? Money, politics, business.. what are the reasons being given and how do they hold up under some real scrutiny? My guests: Ken Walker of the Daily Newarker and Christina Hilo of the NUSSJ and SaveStJames.com help dissect the situation.

We Discuss:

  • St. James and Columbus hospitals
  • The hospital debt and funding
  • Cathedral Health, who they are
  • Possible Scenarios
  • Uninsured Patients
  • The difficulty of organizing in an immigrant community
  • Latest Meetings
[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/bicyclemark/bm253_080309.mp3%5D

New York Times: At the Sharpe James Trial, a Slim Show of Support

New York Times: At the Sharpe James Trial, a Slim Show of Support

Just a week after opening big, with a packed house and an overflow crowd watching a video feed in a courtroom down the hall, New Jersey’s marquee corruption trial had already dwindled to the scale of a weekday matinee, playing to an audience whose meager size seemed out of all proportion to the wide swath cut through the city by a mayor who would have never been mistaken for small.

It will be a long trial, to be sure, two or three months probably, and then another trial is set to follow, on the credit-card expenses that Mr. James, 72, billed to the city. But it was hard not to wonder just where all his supporters had gone — the ones who had filled his fund-raisers, who had followed him onto the city payroll, who had elected him in 12 straight elections: city council, state senate and five terms as mayor, all the way through his final narrow victory over Cory Booker in 2002.

A few more supporters drifted in throughout the morning, peaking at about a dozen around lunch hour, filling two pewlike benches beside Mr. James’s wife as Judith H. Germano, an assistant United States attorney, questioned Mr. Franklin about Mr. James’s influence over the sale of city property as mayor.

I’ve actually been reluctant to blog at all about former Mayor James’ corruption trials. Not so much because I’ve made up my mind about the case — after all, the man deserves a fair trial — but because I believe that James is one of the last icons of Newark’s past.

However the charges play out, I’ve read, heard and frequently blogged about the former Mayor’s statements in the press, from calling Cory Booker’s upbringing into question to “they ain’t shooting at me” in reference to rampant violent gun crime in the city. He created a political culture of fear and favoritism in City Hall.

I do believe that James will be found guilty, either of engineering sweetheart real-estate deals (pun intended) with city land or of fraudulent credit card charges that ran into the tens of thousands while Newarkers faced their largest city budget crisis in recent memory. And there will be hubris in the fact that the man who once was the city’s Chief Power Broker was brought down in a federal courthouse just down the street from City Hall, Newark would do better to focus their attention on making their city a better place to live.

In short, I’m looking forward to the day when Newark has finally moved past Sharpe James.

Tonight @ 8pm, WBGO Newark Today with Cory Booker

Newark Today airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Jazz 88.3 FM and on wbgo.org. Ont topic tonight will be the Campos, McCarthy, Fonseca, Booker dilemma covered recently by the Times and Ledger.
Producer David Cruz will be taking questions for the mayor on the phone. Call in at (800) 499-9246 or email mailto:them to newarktoday@wbgo.org.

NJ.com: Newark’s police chief is suspended

NJ.com: Newark’s police chief is suspended
A spat at City Hall results in a five-day suspension of the NPD’s top policeman.

The rare disciplinary action — the first of a Newark police chief in more than 20 years, according to law enforcement officials — came after a meeting yesterday afternoon between McCarthy and Mayor Cory Booker and their aides. Shortly afterward, McCarthy issued an order suspending Campos beginning at 3 p.m. Monday until 3 p.m. Saturday. A copy of the order was obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Campos, who makes $140,870 annually will continue to receive his pay during the suspension, according to the order. Campos did not respond to messages left at his office and by e-mail.

A spokeswoman for Booker would not confirm the suspension, and McCarthy declined to comment.

Campos’ decision to overturn McCarthy’s transfers was sparked by a disagreement between McCarthy and Booker’s chief of staff, Pablo Fonseca, who has demanded to be consulted on personnel moves within the police department, according to the officials.

The dispute highlights a common disagreement in many New Jersey municipalities that have both a civilian police director and a sworn police chief. For many years in Newark, the director has had ultimate authority over day-to-day operations of the police department. But McCarthy has faced pockets of resistance, including a lawsuit filed by the Superior Officers Union challenging his authority.

NJ Voices: Sharpe James’ Newark: No city for little guys

NJ Voices: Sharpe James’ Newark: No city for little guys

Soon, odd things happen. James calls him and tells him to go to a furniture store on Springfield Avenue to meet with a former mayoral aide — now an ex-con, Jackie Mattison — who’s looking for some of the land action. Franklin, the serious land-use planner, a dignified, soft-spoken guy with big dreams for a city, feels used as a messenger by his mayor.

More strange stuff: First he is told to help Riley, someone he knows is not a developer. Then he’s told to stop. She demands to know why. He says he doesn’t know. This guy who’s trying to rebuild a city is caught in a place no one wants to be.

A few days later, at night, the mayor himself shows up at his house. Franklin has to go outside and get in the mayor’s car, like a scene from a bad gangster movie. He says the mayor berates him for not knowing how to handle “high-strung” people.

Details emerge on the bizarre back-room dealings of the Sharpe James administration. What’s shocking from the Times article is that some Newarkers seem to condone this behavior. Protectionism and cronyism are not the “American” way, and they’re not the only way to get things done.